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US Mint Director Edmund Moy Resigns

Director of the United States Mint Edmund C. Moy announced today that he has submitted his resignation to President Barack Obama, effective January 9, 2011.

Mr Moy reportedly will depart for a private-sector job, however the Mint didn’t disclose Mr. Moy’s new position and a spokesman didn’t immediately return phone calls seeking more information.

Moy was sworn in as 38th Director of the United States Mint in September 2006 after being appointed by President George W. Bush for a five-year term. Prior to assuming his duties as Director of the Mint, Moy was a Special Assistant to President Bush for Presidential Personnel.

In his remarks to all Mint employees about his departure, Moy praised their performance during his tenure. “I’m proud of the progress we’ve made over four and a half years. The Mint is a better place and delivering more value to the American taxpayers. The foundation has been rebuilt and the work is now in your capable hands,” he said. “Please know that I will always remember my being Director of the United States Mint as a special time in my life.”

In comments to the Wall Street Journal, David Ganz, a former president of the American Numismatic Association said: “What is surprising is how long he has lasted into the Obama administration. If you look back 50 years, there’s no Mint director that has served a full term when there has been a change of administration.”

Mr. Ganz said Mr. Moy has long had an interest in coins.

“The most fascinating thing about Director Moy is that as a kid he worked in his parent’s Chinese restaurant and as a cashier he used to go through the cash draw every night and pick out coins for his coin collection,” said Mr. Ganz.

Prior to his public service in the White House and Mint, Moy spent eight years working with venture capital firms and entrepreneurs. From 1989 to 1993, he served President George H. W. Bush as a political appointee at the federal Health Care Financing Administration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He has also served as a sales and marketing executive for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin.

Moy graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1979 with a triple major in economics, international relations and political science. He and his wife Karen have a daughter, Nora.

Heritage’s World and Ancient Coin Auction in NYC

International numismatic treasures highlighted by rare German, Polish and South American coins, as well as the largest gold coin in the world, a Chinese 321+ ounce Beijing Olympics gold 100,000 Yuan

DALLAS, TX – As the profile of Heritage Auctions’ World & Ancient Coins category has continued to skyrocket over the last few years, each consecutive offering has raised the bar significantly. With the Jan. 3-4 New York Signature? World & Ancient Coin Auction at the Waldorf Astoria, coinciding with the New York International Coin Show (NYINC), Heritage has not only assembled its largest World Coin auction to date, it has also once again raised the bar in terms of absolute quality.

“With more than 5,000 total lots in this auction we have literally scoured the planet for the best possible international numismatic offerings,” said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Vice President of International Numismatics at Heritage. “The incredible scope of countries represented, and the depth to which the collections go is so advanced that putting this catalog together was like a getting a graduate degree in world numismatics at a crash course pace.”

More than 240 consignors have placed coins in the auction, most of which will be on display for lot viewing, Dec. 29 and 30, at Heritage’s jewelbox New York space at 445 Park Avenue (at 57th). To further entice International coin collectors, Heritage will have highlights from the upcoming auction the Norman Jacobs Collection of Korean and Japanese Coins, the most important collection of its kind, on display at the NYINC, January 6-9, at the Waldorf-Astoria.

A Polish Sigismund III gold 10 Dukats 1588, Fr-83, XF45 NGC represents one of the superb early highlights of the auction. This exceedingly rare type, with its clean lines and striking imagery is appealing as much for its numismatic value as for its artistic value, and is sure to be the subject of spirited bidding. It carries an estimate of $175,000+. (more…)

Wikileaks Reveals State Dept Deal with Spain In Black Swan Treasure Lawsuit

For years, Odyssey Marine has been in litigation with the Spanish government over a 17 tons of gold and silver coins that Odyssey discovered from “The Black Swan”.

The 19th-century shipwreck at the heart of the dispute with Odyssey Marine Exploration is the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes — a Spanish warship sunk by the British navy southwest of Portugal in 1804 with more than 200 people on board.

The Legal Proceedings:

Odyssey announced in May 2007 it had discovered the wreck in the Atlantic and raised 500,000 silver coins and other artifacts worth an estimated US$500 million (€324 million). The coins and artifacts were brought into the United States with a valid export license and imported legally pursuant to U.S. law. Odyssey brought the artifacts under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court by filing an Admiralty arrest action. This procedure allows any legitimate claimant with an interest in the property to make a claim.

Spain went to the U.S. federal court claiming ownership of the treasure and the case is currently set for Oral Arguments tentatively scheduled to take place during the week of February 28, 2011 at the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Additional appeals have been filed by groups who have presented documentation indicating that if Spain is correct, and the recovered cargo originated from the Mercedes, they are descendants of the owners of Mercedes’ cargo and have legitimate property rights. Those claimants have recognized Odyssey’s archaeological recovery efforts and have acknowledged Odyssey’s right to a salvage award. (more…)

Argentine Rarities to the Fore!

by Greg Cohen – Stacks

One of the many highlights of Stacks upcoming New York International Sale is a lovely and rare 1830 RA P 8 Escudos of Argentina. This is a key date example of the classic Sunface design, the second rarest date in the series.

This piece hails from the Porteño Collection, a small but high quality offering of Argentine coinage, and displays pleasing original gold surfaces with only light wear. This specimen was uncertified when offered in Heritage’s January 2007 sale, and was recently submitted to NGC for encapsulation where it was graded EF-45.

In his 1962 work, Argentine numismatist and researcher, Jorge Ferarri was able to track fewer than 10 examples of this date. In Calico’s “Onza” book, it is simply described as “Extremely Rare.” Even in the current information age, we can only positively identify two examples that have traded at auction in the past five years.

These include: the example in the October 2008 Spink-Smythe sale (which later appeared in the Ponterio New York International 2010 sale) and this example (ex Heritage NYINC 2007). Curiously, this date was missing from our (ANR’s) sale of the Eliasberg World Gold Collection, Goldberg’s sale of the Millennia Collection, our Kroisos Collection Sale, and other important recent sales of quality Argentine coins. While there are probably examples in museums in Argentina, the number available to the collecting public is quite small indeed.

Another stunning Argentine rarity offered as part of the Porteño Collection is an 1836 Rosas portrait 8 Escudos struck in silver. Called an “ensayo” or essay in Hector Carlos Janson’s book, research conducted by our consignor shows that the 1836 8 Escudos was supposed to be an 8 Soles piece, and thus the silver strikings (which are nearly as rare as the gold) are the officially struck coins.

There are four known examples struck in gold, including the Eliasberg-Clapp coin we offered in the Eliasberg World Gold Collection in 2005. Regardless of whether these are official strikes or essay pieces, they are extremely rare. The last silver specimen to sell at public auction was the AU-50 (NGC) that appeared in the Millennia Collection sale. The Porteño Collection example is sharper than the Millennia coin; unfortunately, it has been polished, and is now residing in an AU Details (NGC) holder.

Stack’s is proud to be able to offer these rarities to the collecting public—for the advanced Argentine coin collector, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

WGC: STRONG OUTLOOK FOR GOLD DEMAND FOR REMAINDER OF 2010

Global gold consumption for 2010 will be higher than 2009 as a result of increasing levels of demand in India and China, sustained global demand for gold investment, together with growth in jewellery and industrial demand, the World Gold Council (“WGC”) said.

According to the WGC’s Gold Demand Trends report for Q3 2010, published today, demand for gold in the final quarter of 2010 will be driven by the following factors:

* Increasing demand by the world’s two largest markets, India and China, as rising income levels, high savings rates and strong economic growth continue to push up consumption.

* Gold jewellery demand is likely to exceed that of 2009 due to an anticipated recovery in India, the most significant gold jewellery market, and continuing strength in China. While jewellery demand may face challenges ahead, the latest figures show that demand in key markets has shown resilience in the face of higher prices levels.

* Concern over fiscal imbalances and currency tensions will continue to support investment demand for gold. Aside from the recent additional US$600 billion of quantitative easing by the US, the weakening of the US dollar and associated fears of inflation, demand is also likely to be driven by higher gold price expectations, as well as increasing availability and accessibility of gold investment products to retail investors.

* Industrial demand, which has returned to long-term levels, is expected to remain firm on the back of renewed growth in the electronics industry, due to the majority of semi-conductors being wired by gold.

Marcus Grubb, Managing Director, Investment at the WGC commented:

“Healthy gold demand growth in the third quarter occurred in the context of record international prices, demonstrating how consumers, particularly in India and China, are continuing to appreciate the enduring value of gold. The rediscovery of gold’s properties as both a currency and a monetary asset have been brought into sharp focus. Quantitative easing has forced the adjustment of global imbalances into currency markets and the resulting currency conflict is positive for gold. In addition, we believe demand will be facilitated by the growing number of channels that serve to make gold more easily accessible to a greater number of investors.” (more…)

Ancient Coins: How old is “Ancient”?

By Wayne Sayles – Ancient Coin Collecting Blog

The classification of cultures generally tracks along two interrelated lines: chronological and geographical. For centuries, coin collectors struggled with the lack of a coherent system for cataloguing the vast array of issues from antiquity through the modern era. Joseph Eckhel (1737-1798), a secularized Jesuit abbot who served as numismatist to the imperial court of the Holy Roman Empire, devised a system for arranging coins geographically that is still in use today.

This system basically records coins in a progression beginning at the northeast quadrant of the Mediterranean basin and continuing from west to east, then south through the Levant and from east to west through northern Africa. Though far from perfect, nobody has yet devised a better approach for non-Roman coins. The classification of coins and cultures into chronological divisions is far more complex than the Echkel scheme.

Chronologically, the primary divisions of coinage are almost universally accepted as being Ancient, Medieval and Modern. Within the United States, collectors tend to separate U.S. coins from the modern coins of other nations by referring to the latter as “World Coins.” Coins in the West were first struck in Western Anatolia during the 7th century BC. The transition point between ancient and medieval is more difficult to date.

Some would argue that the end of the ancient period is coincident with the fall of Rome in AD 476. Others choose the accession of Anastasius I in AD 491 as the transition point. But, almost everyone who collects “Byzantine” coins thinks of them as being “ancient” even though they start with the accession of Anastasius and end in 1453 with the fall of Constantinople.

Likewise, coins struck in India and Central Asia are typically thought of as ancient up to the Islamic conquests, which did not happen at a single point in time.

Further complicating the chronological classification, coins of the post-Roman era in western Europe (e.g. Spain, Gaul, Britain and Germany) from as early as the sixth century AD are thought of by many as ‘Medieval”.

In fact, by the time of Constantinople’s fall, some coinage in western Europe is already being thought of by collectors and scholars as falling into the “Modern” or “World” classification. The incongruity is difficult to understand and even more difficult to explain to a new collector.

Illustration Note: [Above] Imago Mundi – Babylonian map, the oldest known world map, 6th century BCE .

From a purely practical point of view, the distinction may not be all that important. After all, a rose is a rose…. But, to a cataloguer it is frequently a conundrum. Perhaps the next Joseph Eckhel is reading these lines right now and conjuring up a system that will allow for the vastly differing cultural environments and reshape our definitions in a way that seems sensible.

What Gold Coins Do CAC Stickers Add the Most Value to?

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

After two+ years of being traded on the open market, I think few collectors and dealers would argue the statement that CAC stickering has added considerable value and liquidity to many types of United States gold coinage. But are we now able to determine with a decent degree of accuracy which coins are most affected by a CAC (or the absence of a sticker)? Let’s take a look at some areas of the gold coin market and see how CAC is adding value.

One of the areas that CAC has added the greatest amount of value is in the St. Gaudens double eagle market. The impact is seen two ways. The first is with common “generic” issues in MS65 and MS66. One of the main reasons why the premium for non-CAC certified MS65 Saints is so low when compared to MS64 coins is that most of the coins in MS65 holders are not significantly better than those graded MS64.

What CAC has done is to identify those coins graded MS65 that are nice quality and which are “real” 65’s. Currently, non-CAC Saints in MS65 trade for around $2,300. Those with CAC stickers are worth at least 10-15% more. They are also quite liquid and can be sold even when dealers have extensive numbers of non-CAC coins in stock. Non-CAC MS66 Saints are currently worth around $2,750-2,850 per coin. The premium for MS66 Saints with CAC stickers is at least $750-1,000 per coin. Given the fact that the stickered MS66 coins I have seen are very nice (as compared with the non-stickered coins which range from inferior for the grade to decent) this premium makes sense.

Another area where CAC stickered coins are selling for a significant premium is in the better date Saint market. Let me pick a random issue: the 1927-S in MS64. This coin has a current bid of $70,000 in this grade and a bona-fide Gem is worth double this. The quality of 1927-S double eagles varies greatly and there are coins that are very low end and hard to sell for $55,000 and coins that are very high end and worth over bid. I can’t recall having ever seen a 1927-S in MS64 with a CAC sticker but if I had a PCGS/CAC coin that I liked I’d quote $75,000+.

Early gold (i.e. gold coins struck from 1795 to 1834) is area that has shown itself to be influenced by CAC stickers. I don’t like every single piece of CAC-stickered early gold that I see but I like at least 90% of the coins. Compare this to non-CAC early gold where probably 50-60% (or more) of the coins offered at auction or through dealer’s websites are not, in my opinion, nice for the grade. I find this to be especially true with early gold in the MS63 and MS64 grades. As an example, an 1812 half eagle in MS64 with a CAC sticker is currently worth around $40,000. The same coin in the same grade that is not stickered and which is not a CAC-quality coin, in my opinion, might be hard to sell for $32,500. More and more collectors of coins like this are demanding that they be CAC stickered and the premium for the pieces that have the Green Bean is at least 10-15% and climbing.

Because so many Proof gold coins have been doctored over the years, CAC-stickered pieces are currently garnering high premiums. This is more so with Matte Proofs than Brilliant Proofs. I can’t remember seeing more than a few Matte Proof gold coins in the last two years that weren’t doctored to the point that they weren’t even the right color. When the few remaining fresh pieces come onto the market, they realize strong prices. As an example, Stack’s just sold at auction a lovely 1913 Matte Proof gold set. All four coins were CAC stickered and all four brought exceptional prices. I see similarly graded washed-out NGC Matte Proof gold from time to time and it brings Greysheet prices or lower; these superb, vibrant Gems brought numbers that were way over “sheet.” (more…)

Finding Numismatic History in Unlikely Places

By Dan Duncan – Pinnacle-Rarities

Ezra Meeker – Champion of the Oregon Trail

Over the summer months our numismatic travels took us to great historical cities like Boston and Philadelphia. And this week we travel to Baltimore, another city rich in early Americana. Of course, across the nation there are local historical sites and, more specifically, sites of numismatic interest. Over the last 200 plus years, our mints have aided the extraction from a number of precious metal lodes. Now many of the once thriving businesses are gone, with a few remaining as mint and mining museums or historical landmarks.

Each place chronicles a rich history founded in capturing natural resources and refining them into tangible representations of our history. Living in the Northwest, we are thousands of miles from any of these sites. While some old mines exist in the state, the real history of Washington State lies in the old growth forests. The “American” history of the region is for all intent and purpose quite young. But, sometimes you don’t have to look far to find a piece of numismatic lore right in your own back yard.

Recently we took the family to a large state fair located in the city of Puyallup (pyoo-al-uh p). One of the town’s principal founders was a pioneer who travelled to the Oregon Territory in the mid-nineteenth century. He eventually settled in the foothills of Mt. Rainier. This man was Ezra Meeker. His contributions to the northwest are many, but he is best remembered nationally for his extensive work on having the Oregon Trail marked.

According to the Meeker Mansion website, “Ezra Meeker became the self-appointed champion of the Oregon Trail in 1906, when at the age of 76, accompanied by two oxen, a wagon, a driver and a dog, he made his way from his front yard to Washington D.C., by way of New York City.”

Meeker first took the Oregon Trail as a young man in 1852. A true pioneer, Ezra was lured by the promise of the new territories. Finally settling in a valley below Mt. Rainier, Meeker cleared his own land and eventually became an internationally successful hops farmer. His travels included a stint in Europe and a couple forays into the Alaskan territories.

Meeker was obviously impacted by his early trip out west. He had a connection to the Oregon Trail. He recognized it as a part of American history and felt it should be cherished and preserved. In his mid-seventies, he harnessed his oxen and retraced his steps from some 50 odd years ago in a Conestoga wagon. He deemed this trip the Oregon Trail Monument Expedition Trip. During this trip he promoted the trail awareness, lectured, handed out pamphlets and eventually gained a lot of publicity. Meeker met with Teddy Roosevelt, who agreed in principle to in some way recognize the Oregon Trail, but the bill died in Congress.

After returning to his home, Meeker wrote an acclaimed book on the subject entitled The Lost Trail, Meeker again braved the 2,000 mile trail with an ox drawn wagon in 1910. He was again to promote its preservation, but this time he intended to map the route. He was in favor of a transcontinental railroad along a similiar course, which he also intended to lobby for. Despite completing the trail, and the map, his second trip was somewhat of a failure. When he arrived out East he was contacted by the Senate and told not to come to D.C. After some other tribulations, he found his way back to Washington State. He continued to campaign, worked on a movie, lectured and published another book – Ox Team Days. Eventually he’s instrumental in the formation of the Oregon Trail Memorial Association. Through that organization he petitioned Congress getting final approval for the Oregon Trail Commemorative in 1926. The proceeds from the distrubution were used to mark the trail. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The CoinFest, Washlady Dollar, 1861-O $20 gold coin, Connecticut Coppers

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #25

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. The CoinFest

The fourth annual CoinFest was held in Stamford (CT) from Oct. 28th to Oct. 30th. For the first time, Heritage conducted the official CoinFest auction and this auction was very successful. Below, I discuss specific coins that were sold in the auction. Also, the exhibit of Gerry Fortin‘s collection of Liberty Seated dimes added luster to the CoinFest. Listings of Fortin’s dimes may be seen in the PCGS and NGC registries.

In my view, bourse floor displays and trading activity were much more impressive at the second and third CoinFest events, in 2008 and 2009. This is partly because the scheduling of the show was then better. This year’s event was just too close to the better established Baltimore Expo and related auction events. Lot viewing in Baltimore for a Stack’s auction started less than forty-eight hours after CoinFest closed. More importantly, this year’s security policies at CoinFest were just too aggressive.

A lot of collectors who attend coin shows do not know that a particular show’s owners are nice people, and, whether a show’s owners are nice or not, collectors often do not wish to be placed on mailing lists or on any other kind of list. Over the last ten years, it has become common for marketing firms and other firms to keep relatively secret databases regarding consumers and to trade such information. Adults certainly should not have to reveal their home addresses or their ages. A list owned by nice people may be sold to nasty people in the future, or stolen by computer hackers.

Indeed, collectors should be able to anonymously attend coin shows. They should have the right not to be bothered and the right not to have their personal information scrutinized. Like identity theft, an individual’s privacy can be invaded without him knowing about it.

Collectors who attend coin shows know that they are likely to be video recorded, which is a sufficient deterrent for wrongdoing, and video recording should be the limit to privacy invasions. The very rare attendee who causes trouble because of severe psychiatric problems is not going to be deterred by aggressive security policies. Moreover, a criminal who is planning to follow dealers from the show is certainly not going to attend the show and be video recorded. Such a criminal will wait outside or use binoculars from a distance.

Aggressive security policies do more harm than good, and when collectors tell their collecting friends about such policies, coin show attendance drops. Besides, I strongly recommend that a collector who attends a coin show keep his driver’s license in his car or in a hotel safe (as people often do with passports in Europe). If a collector is robbed after walking from a coin show, he would not wish for the thief to get his driver’s license, too, which could lead to problems more serious than a loss of a few coins.

Coin show personnel, security or otherwise, should not be asking collectors for ID or pressuring people to reveal their home addresses. Before a few years ago, this was never done at a coin show, for good reason.

II. Washlady Silver Dollar

The Washlady Dollar is one of the most famous of all U.S. pattern issues. In 1879, there were also minted Washlady dimes, quarters and half dollars. These designs were considered and never adopted for regular U.S. coinage. Though the Washlady patterns are of silver denominations, these were struck in copper as well. Copper is much less expensive than silver. On Oct. 29, Heritage auctioned one of the finest known Washlady Dollars in silver. (more…)

Gold tops $1,350 Before Fed Meeting Next Week

Markets await more money printing and key midterm elections

GDP meets expectations

Gold broke $1,350 today just before data showed the U.S. gross domestic product grew by 2 percent in the third quarter on high consumer spending, meeting economic forecasts. In a big meeting Tuesday – also Election Day – the Federal Reserve will discuss the prospect of further quantitative easing, or QE, which will have a major impact on the dollar, inflation expectations, and gold prices. “The Fed meeting next week has been dominating the markets,” said Standard Bank analyst Walter de Wet. “We think the gold market has priced in around a $500 billion QE exercise by the Fed,” he said. “If the Fed comes out with a higher figure, we think gold will move higher.”

The trillion-dollar question: How much money will the Fed print next?

All eyes are on the Fed and its next anticipated round of QE. Most experts agree that some form of QE will be launched at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of its policy-making committee next Wednesday. It’s now just a question of how many billions worth of assets it will purchase and how much the financial markets have already priced in that QE.

“Shock and awe”?: Goldman Sachs thinks the Fed ultimately might buy $2 trillion of assets – a figure close to its “shock and awe” purchase of $1.7 trillion in longer-term Treasury and mortgage-related bonds at the height of the financial crisis. “We expect an announcement of $500 billion or perhaps slightly more over a period of about six months,” said Goldman economist Jan Hatzius. “The key question, however, is not the size of the first step, but how far Fed officials will ultimately need to move to achieve their dual mandate of low inflation and maximum sustainable employment.” The Fed also might announce a monthly purchase rate of perhaps $100 billion that will remain in place until the outlook for jobs and inflation improve “significantly,” he wrote. Goldman thinks as much as $4 trillion of additional asset purchases might be needed to bring inflation and unemployment into line with the Fed’s targets.

Likewise, Bank of AmericaMerrill Lynch Global Research has forecast $1 trillion in QE, and a Reuters poll showed Wall Street analysts expect the Fed to buy between $80 billion to $100 billion in assets per month.
Or “a measured approach”?: However, on Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal downplayed expectations of a major round of QE: “The central bank is likely to unveil a program of U.S. Treasury bond purchases worth a few hundred billion dollars over several months, a measured approach in contrast to purchases of nearly $2 trillion it unveiled during the financial crisis. … Officials want to avoid the ‘shock and awe’ style used during the crisis in favor of an approach that allows them to adjust their policy, and possibly add to their purchases, over time as the recovery unfolds.”

Gold stands to gain: The launch of any significant QE should have an uplifting effect on gold prices. Gold could rise to $1,400 an ounce and the dollar could lose another 2 percent to 3 percent if the Fed buys $500 billion over the next six months, HSBC analysts said Monday. The Fed could eventually buy up to $2 trillion in bonds – way more than the government will issue this year, according to HSBC.

Unbottling the inflation genie

In leading the Fed into uncharted monetary territory, Chairman Ben Bernanke is risking unleashing 1970s-style inflation – against which gold is your best protection. “By reducing real interest rates and trying to break the psychology of ‘Why spend today when I can buy goods cheaper tomorrow,’ they are hoping to drive growth that would be more commensurate with a pickup in employment,” said Miller Tabak & Co. chief economic strategist Dan Greenhaus. “The risk is a late-1970s type of scenario where the inflation genie gets out of the bottle.” (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Collecting Modern Coins

News and Analysis on coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #24

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

The purpose this week is to put forth clear, constructive points regarding the collecting of modern U.S. coins. Readers who are already familiar with modern coins may wish to skip to section three, where John Albanese, Jeff Ambio and I provide advice and guidelines for collecting modern coins.

Before the rare U.S. coin auction climate starts to heat up again, I am continuing to address issues that are of interest to beginning and intermediate collectors. This week, I am revisiting the topic of modern coins, partly because many readers last week falsely and unfairly concluded that I was condemning modern coins. I was not saying that only pre-1934 coins should be collected and I was not referring to the artistic elements of the designs of coins minted after 1934. I was discussing the FACTS that distinguish classic from modern U.S. coins.

Indeed, there is a need to clarify some matters relating to recommendations for collectors and values in the marketplace. Last week, I wrote a two part series on 1933/34 being the dividing line between classic coins and modern U.S. coinage. (Please click to read part 1 or part 2.) Two weeks ago, I covered dealer recommendations regarding modestly priced coins for beginning and intermediate collectors.

Jeff Ambio certainly understood my central points last week. Ambio is the author of three books regarding U.S. coins and is one of the leading cataloguers of coin auction lots. In regards to “the 1933/34 diving line, I [Jeff] agree with your basic contention that coins minted prior to that period are much scarcer than those minted after. I [Jeff] also agree with your opinion that collectors paying huge sums of money for post-1934 coins in high grades should reconsider their buying strategies.”

The collecting of State Quarters is discussed in the second section. Strategies for collecting modern coins are addressed in the third section.

I. Commonality of Modern Coins

Although post-1934 coins are generally extremely common in contrast to pre-1934 U.S. coins, people who very much like post-1934 coins and enjoy collecting them should do so. Last week, in part 2, I emphasized that people should not spend large sums on a post-1934 coin solely because such a coin is, or is claimed to be, a condition rarity.

Indeed, I am against the rather common practice of spending thousands of dollars for common coins. For example, auction records reveal that a considerable number of businesses strike Roosevelt dimes have each sold for thousands of dollars.

Generally, I am very concerned about people spending even $35 over face value or bullion (‘melt’) value for a very common coin. Mint errors and recognized unusual varieties are different topics. I am herein referring to standard issues. I am aware that the 1955/1955 Double Die cent is scarce overall. It is, though, a mint error, or, at least, an accidental issue. U. S. Mint officials did not plan in advance for the numerals and some other devices of these cents to be doubled. Errors and unusual varieties require separate discussions, and tend to be exceptions to rules. (more…)

Bowers and Merena Nov Baltimore Coin Auction Features over 3500 Lots

Bowers and Merena will conduct the official auction of the November 2010 Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo. Scheduled for November 4-5 at the Baltimore Convention Center, the sale will present more than 3,500 lots of important United States coins and currency.

“We are thrilled to continue our long-standing and successful partnership with the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo,” said Greg Roberts, CEO of Bowers and Merena. “This year’s official auction of the November Expo ranks as one of Bowers and Merena’s most important Baltimore auctions of all time. With more than 3,500 lots, our catalog for U.S. coins and currency offers something for everyone, from collectors and dealers on a strict budget to advanced numismatists seeking the finest-known examples of some of the rarest and most famous coins ever struck in the United States Mint.”

Three consignments in particular stand out as defining the importance of the upcoming Baltimore auction. The Kupersmith Once-in-a-Lifetime Collection is a truly amazing offering, the likes of which is rarely seen in even the most prestigious sales, that has at its core six of the rarest gold coins struck in the Philadelphia in 1875. Nearly impossible to assemble such a collection in any grade, the consignor remained committed to quality and selected only the highest-graded examples that he could find, many of which are actually top-of-the-pop.

“Needless to say, it is difficult for us to single out one coin in this collection for each piece qualifies as a highlight, although special recognition must go to the 1875 Three-Dollar Gold Piece in NGC Proof-66 Ultra Cameo,” said Roberts. A pop 1/0 coin at both PCGS and NGC, this coin also ranks as the finest of perhaps just 10 original strikings of the proof-only 1875 Three-Dollar. Not to be overlooked and in addition to the 1875-dated gold set, the Kupersmith Collection will also be presenting a selection of rare proof and business strike Three-Dollar gold pieces, the proofs of which comprise the highest-ranked set on the NGC Registry.

The Malibu Collection offers the #2 collection of Standing Liberty Quarters with full-head designation on the PCGS Set Registry. “Nearly all of the Standing Liberty Quarters in the Malibu Collection are either top-of-the-pop or tied for finest certified, and plus-designated coins are figured prominently throughout the set. Of particular note are the low-mintage 1916 in PCGS MS-67 FH (Pop: 2/1), the conditionally challenging 1919-D in PCGS MS-66+ FH (Pop: 1/0) and the key-date 1927-S in PCGS MS-65+ FH (Pop: 1/2),” said Roberts. Other selections from the Malibu Collection include impressive runs of Seated Liberty Half Dollars and Silver Dollars that feature many key-date and/or conditionally rare pieces. (more…)

W. Philip Keller Colonoal Coin Collection Leads Heritage COINFEST Auction

Locked in a Pennsylvania vault for 43 years, one of the most comprehensive collections of colonial and early American coins ever to reach public auction, The W. Philip Keller Collection of U.S. Colonials, is the principle highlight of the upcoming Rare U.S. Coin auction, Oct. 28-31 in conjunction with COINFEST in Stamford, CT.

Mr. Keller apparently stopped actively collecting around 1966, with intermittent purchases through the early 1970s, and stored his collection in a bank vault where it was discovered nearly 40 years later by his surprised family after he died last year, who knew that Mr. Keller was a collector, but had no idea of the depth, or value, of his collection.

This is Heritage’s first official auction with COINFEST, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Fittingly enough, our debut at this New England venue is filled with a variety of colonial and early American coins, including dozens of different Connecticut coppers struck shortly after independence.

One of those Connecticut coppers is a 1785 African Head Connecticut copper, the extremely rare Miller 4.2-F.6 variety, graded VF30 by NGC. It is estimated at $40,000+, but could go significantly higher.

There are two varieties of the African Head Connecticut copper, one relatively common, the other extremely rare. This piece is one of the rare variety, one of just two or three known. Its appearance at COINFEST is truly a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Keller bought most of his collection from leading dealers and auctioneers in the 1950s and 1960s, and this African Head copper has been in Keller’s collection, and thus off the market, since 1966.

Another anchor consignment of the auction is The Diotte Collection, which spans U.S. Mint history from some of the earliest issues to noted modern rarities. Its chief highlight is a 1797 half dollar, O-102 variety, graded Fine Details by NCS. It is estimated at $50,000+.

The half dollars of 1796-1797 are among the most prized U.S. type coins regardless of grade. Just four varieties were struck between the two years, all of them are very scarce to very rare, and the 1797 O-102 variety is the most elusive of them all.

In addition to colonials, pattern coinage is among the strengths of this auction. In a relatively small but impressive selection, the most prominent piece is an 1879 “Washlady” dollar struck in silver, Judd-1603 variety, graded PR66+ by NGC. It is estimated at $50,000+.

This design’s nickname was originally an insult. In 1891, just a dozen years after this pattern was struck, David Proskey called it the ‘Washlady,’ a negative reference to how Liberty’s hair appeared. Today, however, the ‘Washlady’ is considered one of the most beautiful patterns ever produced, and the very rare examples struck in silver are especially sought-after.

The 20th century has its share of highlights as well, led by a 1909 half eagle, graded PR67 by NGC. Like other gold proofs of that year, it has a distinct semi-bright finish sometimes called “Roman gold,” which tried to find a balance between the mirrored proofs of the 19th century and the dull-finished matte proofs that were popular in Europe but had received a disastrous reception among U.S. coin collectors. The “Roman gold” experiment failed, but survivors from the issue’s mintage of 78 half eagles are popular with modern numismatists. It is estimated at $55,000+.

A more conventional mirrored proof offered is a 1904 double eagle graded PR65 Cameo by PCGS. Just 98 proof $20s were struck in 1904, and most of them lack the contrast that was often seen on pre-1902 specimens. Thanks to its Cameo status and solid all-around preservation, it is one of the most important representatives of its issue. It is estimated at $60,000+.

Additional highlights include, but are not limited to:

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Coins Minted After 1934 tend to be Very Common, 1793 to 1933 is the Classic Era – Part 2

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community, #23-Part2

A continuation of a Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

Usually, this column is published each Wednesday morning and not at other times. I came to believe, however, that this week’s topic is of tremendous importance and warrants two parts. [Click Here to View Part One] My survey of sophisticated collectors and expert dealers, shockingly, indicated that, while most realized that 1933/34 is the traditional dividing line between classic and modern U.S. coinage, few remembered or ever knew the primary reason. U.S. coins minted before 1934 are much scarcer than U.S. coins minted after 1934. Indeed, though there are a few exceptions, regular issue U.S. coins minted after 1934 are common.

From the perspective of a collector, this is the most important and clearest dividing line in the whole history of U.S. coinage. As the basis for this dividing line is not well understood, I feel compelled to explain and prove its importance. I presented logical points and evidence in part 1, and I provide more evidence herein. I then discuss one major reason why it is imperative to emphasize this dividing line now; many people are spending substantial or even vast sums for very common coins, usually without really understanding the factors involved and the traditions of coin collecting in the U.S.

IV. Walking Liberty Half Dollars

As the somewhat recent sharp rises in the price of silver has affected the values of circulated Walking Liberty Half Dollars, it makes sense here to consider those that grade AU-50 or higher. As no Walkers were minted in Philadelphia that date from 1922 to 1933, it may not be suitable to analyze comparative values for Philadelphia Mint halves in terms of the 1933/34 dividing line. Therefore, I refer to Denver and San Francisco Mint halves. Of all the Denver Mint Walkers minted prior to 1934, the 1929-D is the least expensive and the least scarce.

In AU-50 grade, a 1929-D half is worth about three to more than ten times as much as any Denver Mint half dating from 1934 to 1945, with one exception, the 1938-D. The 1938-D is the only regular issue exception, of the half dollar denomination, to the 1933/34 dividing line between relatively scarce U.S. coins and relatively common coins. The 1938-D half is scarce, much more so than any other Denver Mint half dollar issue in the 1930s or later.

In regard to San Francisco Mint halves, there is no such exception. In AU-50 or higher grades, any pre-1934 S-Mint Walker is worth substantially more, usually from two to more than ten times as much, than any San Francisco Mint Walker from 1934-S to the last S-Mint Walking Liberty Half, 1946-S. In relative terms, pre-1934 San Francisco Mint halves are ‘very scarce’ and post-1934 San Francisco halves are quite common. (more…)

US Gold Coins: AU58 New Orleans Eagles – A Case Study

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

Take two 1842-O Liberty Head eagles in NGC AU58. One is worth $11,500 and gets multiple orders on my website within hours of being posted. The other sells in an auction for $6,325 and is a marginal value. Why is one coin worth nearly twice as much as the other despite the fact that they are the same date in the “same” grade?

The coin(s) in question is, as I stated above, an 1842-O eagle in AU58. A little background information on this issue is appropriate to help better understand the issue at hand. A total of 27,400 examples were produced. This issue saw extensive use in commerce and it is essentially the first available eagle from this mint given the rarity of the 1841-O (only 2,500 were produced). When available, the 1842-O tends to be in VF and EF grades and it is scarce in the lower AU grades. It becomes rare in properly graded AU55 and it is very rare in AU58. This issue is an extreme rarity in Mint State with just two or three known. The second finest of these, graded MS61 by PCGS, just brought $74,750 in the August 2010 Stack’s auction.

I bought the NGC AU58 example illustrated below at the recent Philadelphia coin show sponsored by Whitman and it was among my best purchases at the show. I paid a strong price for this coin but was happy to do so (and would do so again).

1842-O $10.00 NGC AU58

What makes this a special coin? I was really attracted top this coin by its originality. It has superb deep original coloration on the obverse and reverse which suggests that it has never been cleaned or dipped. Notice the depth of the color and how even it is on both sides. I also like how clean the surfaces are. This is an issue that is typically found with densely abraded surfaces and even the MS61 piece that I mentioned above had considerable marks on the surfaces. This example, however, was immaculate. The luster of this coin, while a bit subdued as a result of the intensity of the color, is undisturbed; a result of its not having been cleaned, dipped or processed. This coin has wonderful overall eye appeal and this sort of “look” is much appreciated by connoisseurs of U.S. gold coins. (more…)

Profiles: Medal and Coin Artist Alex Shagin

Alex Shagin was born in Russia, near Leningrad, on January 21, 1947. Alexander George Shagin is the only child of George and Ekaterina Shagin. He studied at the Vera Mukhina School of Arts and Design, completing his education in 1971. Shortly after completing his education he was drafted into the soviet army where he spent a little over a year.

Following his discharge, he became an apprentice at the Leningrad Mint. As an apprentice, he submitted his diploma project, a medal of Peter the Great, to the Soviet authorities. His work was so admired that he was recommended for appointment as an artist of the mint. By 1974, Shagin had become a leading designer and sculptor.

In the 1970’s the Leningrad mint was involved mostly in the production of medals and commemorative coins. Shagin was responsible to produce at least one medal every two months. Although he was allowed a rather wide latitude in his work, all of his designs had to be approved by the Council of Art medals before they could be struck.

By the end of the 1970’s, Shagin began to become more and more concerned about the Soviet government’s control over his artistic expression. While visiting an exhibit of medals in Poland in 1978, Shagin was astonished to learn of the artistic freedom his Polish colleagues. During that visit Shagin became convinced that he had to seek artistic freedom in the West.

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David Lisot of Coin Television Interviews Alex Shagin at the recent Long Beach Expo

Upon his return to Leningrad, Shagin applied for an exit visa. This so angered the Soviet officials that he was immediately relieved of his position. After waiting more than a year, during which time he had no means of earning a living, he was finally given an exit visa. In 1979 Shagin emigrated to the United States and now resides in Santa Monica, California where he continues his art.

He has works in museums and private collections around the world, including the Hermitage Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, Yad Vashem Museum, the British Museum and the Swedish Royal Medallic Collection. In 2002, as First Vice President of the American Medallic Sculpture Association (A.M.S.A.) he participated in the Federation Internationale de le Medaille (F.I.D.E.M.) congress by designing a special presentation medal for the American Delegation–The Medal of Liberty presented to twelve individuals by Ronald Reagan in 1986.

Each project Alex Shagin designs is a personal tribute to the freedom and democracy he found since immigrating to America from Russia in the 1980’s. His work on the Moscow Olympics (1980) and Los Angeles Olympics (1984) led to international recognition culminating in the American Numismatic Society’s Saltus Award in 1995. He has created works for the US Mint, Singapore Mint, Israel Government Mint, American Numismatic Association, Leningrad Mint, The White House (Ronald Reagan) to name a few.

Gold & Silver Political Action Committee (PAC) Formed to Support Rare Coin & Precious Metal Community

Updated 10-19-10
The first informational meeting of the recently created Gold & Silver Political Action Committee (GSPAC) occurred in Long Beach, California on September 22, 2010. The creation of the PAC was prompted by enactment of new Internal Revenue Service Form 1099 reporting requirements and other proposed legislation that could create tremendous burdens on dealers as well as collectors and investors.

GSPAC is registered with the Federal Election Commission (FEC)

Thirty-one people attended the inaugural meeting in Long Beach, including state and federal government relations experts, rare coin and bullion dealers, executives of several national numismatic organizations and a former US Mint Director who also previously served as chief of the majority staff of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

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“The Gold & Silver PAC is an effort to elect public officials with a better understanding of the numismatic and precious metals community and pending legislation and regulatory issues that could positively impact or adversely affect the hobby and profession,” said Barry Stuppler, Chairman of GSPAC.

“GSPAC does not compete with existing organizations, such as the Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA) or the Coalition for Equitable Regulation and Taxation (CERT). By working to elect legislators who understand our community’s needs, issues and concerns, we complement their efforts in Washington and state capitals.”
Veteran government legislative specialist, Nicholas A. Pyle, President of Pyle & Associates in Washington, is volunteering his time to work with GSPAC and among those attending the meeting. Pyle will create an informal “Congressional Coin Caucus” composed of members of Congress interested in coin and precious metals issues.

Stuppler outlined nine “core issues” that GSPAC will use as criteria to evaluate candidates:
• IRS Form 1099 reporting on purchases of merchandise over $600
• Regulation of the purchasing and marketing practices of gold and precious metals dealers
• Enforcement of the Ancient Antiquities Act on Greek and Roman coin imports.
• Problems caused by high-quality Chinese-made counterfeit coins and bogus certified numismatic holders
• Traveling and hotel gold buyers who may be purchasing gold coins and jewelry without required licenses
• Allowing certified rare coins to be placed in IRA accounts
• Exempting coins, currency and precious metals from possible Value Added Taxes (VAT)
• Exempting coins, currency and precious metals from the Streamlined Sales Tax Plan (SSTP) all inter-state Internet or mail-order sales taxes
• Capital gains tax rates on precious metals and rare coins

“I am excited to share that the Gold & Silver PAC raised over $160,000 in contributions from individuals and another $150,000 in pledges,” explained Stuppler. (more…)

Cardinal Large Cent Collection To De Displayed Next Month At Whitman Coin Expo

The acclaimed Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation‘s large cents collection, the number one-ranked set of its kind in both the PGCS and NGC Set Registry listings, will be publicly displayed for the first time in the Baltimore-Washington area during the first two days of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo, November 4 and 5, 2010.

The exhibit, co-sponsored by Bowers and Merena Auctions (www.BowersAndMerena.com) and Collateral Finance Corporation (www.cfccoinloans.com), will be displayed at the Bowers and Merena booth, #1205, during the show.

“It is truly an amazing collection that includes some of the finest known examples of United States large cents struck from 1793 to 1857, said Greg Roberts, CEO of Bowers and Merena. “There are 77 large cents in the set, and many are the finest known for their respective date and type.”

This 1793 Chain Cent (S-2), graded PCGS MS65BN, is one of the highlights of the multi-million dollar Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation large cents collection that will be displayed August 10 – 13, 2010 by Bowers and Merena Auctions and Collateral Finance Corporation at the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Boston.  (Photo by PCGS)

While supplies last, visitors to the exhibit can receive a free, 40-page illustrated booklet published by the foundation, “Portraits of Liberty,” that describes the history of U.S. large cents.

Highlights of the exhibit include:

  • 1793 Chain Cent (S-2) graded PCGS MS65BN that set a world’s record in 2005 as the most valuable U.S. cent at the time
  • 1793 Wreath Cent, PCGS MS69BN, the single highest-graded 18th century U.S. coin of any date of denomination
  • 1794 Liberty Cap “Head of 1793” Cent, PCGS MS64BN, described by Logies as “the single finest representative work of early Mint engraver, Joseph Wright”
  • 1803 Draped Bust Cent, PCGS MS66RB, acclaimed by the Early American Coppers society as tied for the finest known Draped Bust cent of any date or variety
  • the record-setting 1842 Braided Hair Cent from the Naftzger Collection, PCGS MS65RD, widely acknowledged as the finest existing “Petite Head” type
  • and another record-setting coin from the Naftzger Collection, an 1852 Braided Hair Cent, graded PCGS MS65RD, and acknowledged as the finest existing cent from its era.

“The Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation is a non-profit educational organization that focuses on the study and publication of information about early coinage of the United States of America. With the valued assistance of Bowers and Merena and Collateral Finance Corporation, this will be the first opportunity for collectors to see these superb-quality, early American cents in person in the Washington-Baltimore area,” said Martin Logies, a director of the Sunnyvale, California-based foundation.

One of America’s leading rare coin auction houses, Bowers and Merena of Irvine, California holds three of the top seven world-record auction prices for U.S. coins. For additional information call (949) 253-0916 or visit online at www.BowersandMerena.com.

Collateral Finance Corporation of Santa Monica, California offers precious metals financing to dealers and collectors on a wide array of bullion and numismatics. For additional information, call (310) 587-1410 or visit www.CFCcoinloans.com.

The Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo will be held in the Baltimore Convention Center, One Pratt Street, Baltimore. It will be open to the public on Thursday, November 4, from Noon to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, November 5 and 6, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, November 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

What’s It Worth? How dealers determine the value of a Rare Coin.

By Vic Bozarth – Bozarth Rare Coin Market Report

How are rare coin prices determined? Often the question dealers will ask is: “I know what Greysheet (Coin Dealer Newsletter bid) is, but what can I ‘really’ get for it?”

In this month’s Rare Coin Market Report, I will explain how I determine the value of an individual coin. Most often I will use a variety of different pricing sources to determine the value of a coin.

The most utilized source of rare coin pricing information among dealers are the variety of Coin Dealer Newsletter publications including Greysheet, Bluesheet, Monthly Summary, and the Quarterly Supplements. Dealers also use CCE, which is the Certified Coin Exchange. Coin World Trends, Collectors Universe prices, Redbook, and Coin Prices are also utilized.

In the last several years auction prices realized have become one of the most useful and often misunderstood sources of pricing information. Let me explain a little bit about all of these different sources before I explain how I use them.

CDN’s multiple publications include the Greysheet, Bluesheet, Monthly Summary, and Quarterly price sheets.

The Greysheet and Bluesheet are weekly publications and list many of the most frequently traded U.S. rare coins, BUT the values they list vary significantly.

Basically Greysheet lists sight seen bids for attractive coins. Bluesheet lists sight unseen bids for coins that might not be that attractive although they are graded correctly. Because I am looking for attractive coins, I often have to pay Greysheet bid or more for an attractive coin. If someone offers me a coin I don’t particularly like I am going to check the ‘bid’ on Bluesheet to see what the ‘basal’ value really is.

Depending on the particular coin the difference between the Greysheet and Bluesheet can vary as much as 70%. Yes, 70%!

CDN Monthly Summary is published each month and includes more of the frequently traded U.S. rare coins by date and grade including the early twentieth century gold series and most of the classic twentieth century collector series.

One of the three different CDN Quarterly issues come out every month and the three include all the other U.S. rare coin series by date. The Quarterly One issue contains half cents through quarters. The Quarterly Two contains halves through $3 gold coins. The Quarterly Three contains prices for $5 Liberty through $20 Liberty Gold Coins.

All prices for the Monthly Summary and Quarterly price sheets are for sight seen coins. There is also a supplement included with each month’s Quarterly Supplement that has prices for Proof coins not listed in the Quarterly Supplements. (more…)

W. Philip Keller Collection of U.S. Colonials leads Heritage COINFEST Auction

Oct. 28-31 auction in Stamford, CT features one of the most important offerings of early American coinage in decades

DALLAS, TX — Locked in a Pennsylvania vault for 43 years, one of the most comprehensive collections of colonial and early American coins ever to reach public auction, The W. Philip Keller Collection of U.S. Colonials, is the principle highlight of the upcoming Heritage Auctions Rare U.S. Coin auction, Oct. 28–31 in conjunction with COINFEST in Stamford, CT.

Mr. Keller apparently stopped actively collecting around 1966, with intermittent purchases through the early 1970s, and stored his collection in a bank vault where it was discovered nearly a 40 years later by his surprised family after he died last year, who knew that Mr. Keller was a collector, but had no idea of the depth, or value, of his collection.

“This is Heritage’s first official auction with Coinfest, and we couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage. “Fittingly enough, our debut at this New England venue is filled with a variety of colonial and early American coins, including dozens of different Connecticut coppers struck shortly after independence.”

One of those Connecticut coppers is a 1785 African Head Connecticut copper, the extremely rare Miller 4.2-F.6 variety, graded VF30 by NGC. It is estimated at $40,000+, but could go significantly higher.

“There are two varieties of the African Head Connecticut copper, one relatively common, the other extremely rare,” said Rohan. “This piece is one of the rare variety, one of just two or three known. Its appearance at COINFEST is truly a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Keller bought most of his collection  from leading dealers and auctioneers in the 1950s and 1960s, and this African Head copper has been in Keller’s collection, and thus off the market, since 1966.”

Another anchor consignment of the auction is The Diotte Collection, which spans U.S. Mint history from some of the earliest issues to noted modern rarities. Its chief highlight is a 1797 half dollar, O-102 variety, graded Fine Details by NCS. It is estimated at $50,000+.

“The half dollars of 1796-1797 are among the most prized U.S. type coins regardless of grade,” said Rohan. “Just four varieties were struck between the two years, all of them are very scarce to very rare, and the 1797 O-102 variety is the most elusive of them all.”

In addition to colonials, pattern coinage is among the strengths of this auction. In a relatively small but impressive selection, the most prominent piece is an 1879 “Washlady” dollar struck in silver, Judd-1603 variety, graded PR66+ by NGC. It is estimated at $50,000+.

“This design’s nickname was originally an insult,” said Rohan. “In 1891, just a dozen years after this pattern was struck, David Proskey called it the ‘Washlady,’ a negative reference to how Liberty’s hair appeared. Today, however, the ‘Washlady’ is considered one of the most beautiful patterns ever produced, and the very rare examples struck in silver are especially sought-after.”

The 20th century has its share of highlights as well, led by a 1909 half eagle, graded PR67 by NGC. Like other gold proofs of that year, it has a distinct semi-bright finish sometimes called “Roman gold,” which tried to find a balance between the mirrored proofs of the 19th century and the dull-finished matte proofs that were popular in Europe but had received a disastrous reception among U.S. coin collectors. The “Roman gold” experiment failed, but survivors from the issue’s mintage of 78 half eagles are popular with modern numismatists. It is estimated at $55,000+.

A more conventional mirrored proof offered is a 1904 double eagle graded PR65 Cameo by PCGS. Just 98 proof $20s were struck in 1904, and most of them lack the contrast that was often seen on pre-1902 specimens. Thanks to its Cameo status and solid all-around preservation, it is one of the most important representatives of its issue. It is estimated at $60,000+. (more…)

Kolbe & Fanning’s 119th auction sale, closing on November 18, 2010.

Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers announce their 119th auction sale, closing on November 18, 2010. The 60-page, 588-lot catalogue comprises a diverse selection of interesting and elusive works on ancient, medieval and modern numismatics, and is particularly rich in rare and unusual works on American numismatics.

Featured in the sale among the many interesting lots of American interest are: the Currency Act of 1764, a rare British Parliamentary Act regulating American colonial paper money, the severe restriction of which provided in part the justification of the American Revolution; the Wayne Homren collection of some fifty early American newspapers with numismatic content, including a 1787 description of Fugio coppers, Birmingham coppers in 1752, a 1788 account of the Massachusetts Mint, George Washington’s 1792 comments on the establishment of the U.S. Mint, a contemporary account of 1794 dollars, early Mint Reports, a contemporary account of the 1851 Lewis Roper sale, and the 1857 loss of the S.S. Central America; nice examples of the first two coin publications of Q. David Bowers, issued in 1955 and 1956, and specially bound combined presentation editions of both the Garrett and Norweb collection sales; a special hardbound edition of Barney Bluestone’s famous Grinnell paper money sales; a 1914 letter from S.H. Chapman to William H. Woodin, discussing plated Gable sale catalogues; Evelyn’s 1697 Numismata, which includes the earliest illustration of the St. Patrick’s coinage; Sanborn Partridge’s rare 1979 article on Vermont coins, hand-annotated by the author; the famous 1878 Adolph Weyl sale of the Fonrobert collection of over 6,000 American and Canadian coins, tokens and medals; a nice first edition, first printing of the Red Book; a rare antebellum children’s guide book with currency tables, published in 1857 in Charleston by William Babcock; Confederate States of America publications on currency; a nautical almanac for the year 1803 signed by early American naval hero Thomas Truxtun that may well have accompanied Truxtun when he captured the French frigate L’Insurgente in 1799 and during the successful encounter in 1800 with La Vengeance, which resulted in President Jefferson presenting Truxtun with the first Congressional medal made in the United States; an interesting collection of American numismatic literature from the Civil War years; and two of the rarest limited editions of the Red Book: the 2008 ANS sesquicentennial and 2008 NLG Bash volumes, limited to editions of 250 and 135 copies respectively.

A few of the important works on ancient, medieval and modern numismatics include: a fine copy of John Evelyn’s 1697 Numismata, the first substantial work on English medals, once in the libraries of Rogers Ruding, Matthew Young and Edward Hawkins; a set of the Forni reprint of Babelon’s Traité des Monnaies Grecques et Romaines; a handsomely bound sales room copy of the iconic 1974 Zurich Kunstfreundes sale of superb ancient Greek coins, with buyers’ names and prices; a nice selection of Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum fascicules; the first 15 volumes, 1960-1989, of Numizmatika i Epigrafika; Medina’s classic 1924 Medallas Europeas Relativas à América; Cayón’s 1990-95 four-volume Compendio de las Monedas del Imperio Romano; the seldom-encountered Forni reprint of Imhoof-Blumer’s Die Antiken Münzen Nord-Griechenlands; and Éditions Spéciales of seven Victor Gadoury works on French coins.

A printed catalogue may be obtained by sending $10 to: KOLBE & FANNING NUMISMATIC BOOKSELLERS LLC, 141 W JOHNSTOWN ROAD, GAHANNA OH 43230-2700. The catalogue is also accessible free of charge on the Kolbe & Fanning website at www.numislit.com. (more…)

Sedwick Auction To Feature Shipwreck Treasure, Gold Cobs and World Coins

Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC announces the release of their Treasure and World Coin Auction #8, scheduled for October 21-23, 2010, comprising 2789 lots, by far their largest sale to date. For the first time Sedwick has incorporated “World Coins” into the title, as the auction features almost 1000 lots of general world coins.
As usual the auction will start with Gold Cobs, more than 50 of them this time (mostly from shipwrecks), including several of the finest known 1715-Fleet specimens: a full-date and exceptionally struck Mexican 8 escudos 1714 and 4 escudos 1715; a near-perfect Lima 2 escudos and probably the finest known Lima cob 1 escudo, both dated 1710 and encapsulated PCGS, the latter MS-64. Also there are no less than nine Fleet “bogeys” (Bogotá 2 escudos) in this sale.

The next section, World Gold Coins, contains over 300 lots, most of them Spanish Colonial “busts,” including: the finest known Mexican 1 escudo 1733/2, recovered by Marty Meylach from the 1733 Fleet and the inspiration for his book Diving to a Flash of Gold; a unique Santiago, Chile, 1 escudo, 1755/4, from the famous Eliasberg collection; and well over 100 Spanish colonial bust 8 escudos by date, most of them starting below melt value.

The Ingots section features a collection of large, natural gold nuggets, as well as several important 16th-century ingots (including “tumbaga”) and a unique silver “piña” ingot from the Atocha (1622).

“This is not just a treasure auction–it is also a world coin auction, our first big offering of gold and silver coins from countries all over the world.
Daniel Frank Sedwick

In Shipwreck Silver Coins bidders will find hundreds of Atocha (1622) silver coins, both rarities and wholesale lots, in addition to coins from dozens of shipwrecks around the world assembled by two different collectors.

The Silver Cobs sections for Mexico, Lima and Potosí contain no less than four Royals (round presentation specimens) in various denominations. The Lima listings are dominated by the collection of Robert Mastalir, including a nearly complete date-run of 1R that contains several unlisted overdates. Featured in Other Cobs is a Santo Domingo 4 reales of Charles-Joanna (one of very few ever offered at auction), as well as a large collection of dated cobs from mainland Spanish mints.

Following a short but varied Ancient Coins offering (the first for Sedwick), the expanded World Silver Coins section comprises over 600 lots, with particular emphasis on Colombia (featuring Part II of the Herman Blanton collection) and the British Isles (Great Britain, Ireland and Scotland). There is also a large collection of British Admiral Vernon medals.

“Our most important items are in shipwreck artifacts, however,” says Sedwick’s assistant Agustin “Augi” Garcia, whose new book The “Tumbaga” Saga about some conquest-period silver bars is being released at the same time. “Of particular significance is a unique Tarascan (Mexican) silver rodela (plate) from the “Tumbaga wreck” (ca. 1528), featured in my new book and the important link for figuring out what the silver ingots of that time were made of.”

The Shipwreck Artifacts section also features a large gold-and-emerald pendant and a gold religious medallion and chain from the 1715 Fleet, followed by many lots of small artifacts from the 1733 Fleet, the collection of Marty Meylach himself. Non-shipwreck Artifacts include a large selection of colonial-era weapons, mainly flintlocks and swords, as well as several natural history items like fossils and scrimshaw.

The auction is rounded out by Documents and Media (books and catalogs), ending with a special, full-color, hardbound, limited edition #1 of 50 copy of Augi’s much-anticipated book The “Tumbaga” Saga, which the author will personally inscribe to the winning bidder. (more…)

Stolen Coin Alert: St. Paul, Minnesota

Numismatic Crime Information Crime Bulletin/Alert

The South St. Paul Minnesota Police Department is investigating the September 26, 2010 vehicle burglary of coin dealer Lee Orr. At approximately 2:10pm in the afternoon the victim was loading his vehicle preparing to leave a local coin show in South St. Paul.

When the victim walked back inside the show to retrieve the last of his inventory two white male suspects smashed the windows in his vehicle and removed two cases of coins.

The following is a partial list of coins;
GOLD COINS: 2 1895 $20 Lib Au/Bu Raw 1 1896 $20 Lib Au/Bu Raw 2 1897-S $20 Lib Au/Bu Raw 1 1900 $20 Lib Au/Bu Raw 1 1901 $20 Lib Au/Bu Raw 1 1904 $20 Lib Au/Bu Raw 1 1906 $20 Lib Au/Bu Raw D or S 1 1907 $20 Lib Au/Bu Raw D or S 7 1908 $20 Saint Au/Bu Raw 3 1910-S $20 Saint Au/Bu Raw 1 1913 $20 Saint AU Raw 1 1913-D $20 Saint AU Raw 1 1914-S $20 Saint Au/Bu Raw 1 1915-S $20 Saint Au/Bu Raw 4 1922

DOLLARS: 1 1903-S $1 NGC MS62 White 2 1903-O $1 PCGS MS63 White 1 1901-S $1 PCGS MS64 White 1 1894 $1 VF/XF Raw 1 1893-S $1 PCGS VG original 1 1892-CC $1 AU Raw – White Dipped out. 1 1885-S $1 PCGS MS63 White

HALF DOLLARS – CENTS: 1 1806 50c ANACS VF30 Deep Gray toning with blue between rims & stars 1 1806 50c VF Raw 1 1808/7 50c AU Raw 1 1809 50c AU Raw 1 1811 50c AU Raw 1 1839-O 50c XF/AU Raw – Cleaned & retoned 1 1872-CC 50c VF/XF Raw – Cleaned & retoned 1 1923-S 25c XF40 Raw 1 1896-S 25c AG Raw 2 1896-S 25c Good Raw 1 1913-S 25c Good Raw 1 1807 10c VF Raw – Obv 1 1812 1c AU Raw – Distinct Rim Nick showing bright copper color

4 Double Row Boxes Raw Collector Coins with many key dates 1 Double Row Box Slabs Dollars after 1880, Commemoratives, Gold.

Any dealer or collector having information regarding this offense should contact:
Det. Julie Bishop
South St. Paul PD
612-747-2409
Or
Doug Davis
Numismatic Crime Information Center
817-723-7231

The Numismatic Crime Information Center is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation established as a resource for dealers, collectors, victims and law enforcement during the investigation of a numismatic crime. All donations are tax deductible.

A Look at Early U.S. Gold Coins

By Jim Fehr – The Winning Edge

Gold Strengthens

The gold market is hot. Bullion prices are rising and driving gold coin prices higher. Economic conditions over the last two years have investors seeking a heaven against rising money supply/inflation. The government printing presses are running over-time as the treasury departments prints trillions of dollars to try revive a weak economy. Keynesian economic practices and an explosion in the size of the U.S. government should keep gold at healthy levels as prices flirt with $1,310 + an ounce.

Early U.S. Gold

Not too long ago I wrote about Early U.S. silver coins. Like the Early silver type, I wanted to break down the Early U.S. gold pieces in this issue. Hope you enjoy it. Prices are an approximation of your actual past and present acquisition cost. PCGS and NGC populations are based on their respective censuses reports.

Draped Bust $2.5 1796 – 1807

The first U.S. coin to have the heraldic (large) eagle on the reverse which was then adopted for all U.S. gold and silver coins from 1798 to 1807. There are two major design varieties for the 1796; the “with stars” and “no stars” obverse. Both of which are extremely rare. The populations listed are for all dates combined. Prices are an approximation of your actual past and present acquisition cost and are for a type coin (not better dates) in the series.

PCGS Circ. population: 392; NGC: 298
PCGS Unc. population: 89; NGC: 163

Prices have steadily climbed since 2002 and are still strong today. This issue is somewhat overlooked like most smaller denomination coins, but less so recently. The prices listed are for type coins in the series. Better dates like the 1796 no stars bring more. I like the issue in all grades at the current levels and believe they will continue to perform well.

In the next two groups Liberty is facing left as is true with most all U.S. coins after 1807. For the single year of 1808 the design had no denticles and was of the large bust type. Then none were minted until 1821. The new design included smaller stars and bust. After 1827 they reduced the coins size and denticles, hence the Capped Bust small size. Prices are an approximation of your actual past and present acquisition cost and are for a type coin (not better dates) in the series.

Capped Bust $2.5 1808 – 1827 large size

PCGS Circ. population: 115; NGC: 87
PCGS Unc. population: 72; NGC: 75

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Bullock 1856-O double eagle brings $345,000 to headline $13.4 Million Heritage Long Beach Auction

Gold remains in high demand as it reaches world record $1,300 an ounce high

The recently discovered Bullock specimen of the 1856-O double eagle, XF45+, NGC, was the unabashed star of the Sept. 23-26 Heritage Auctions September Long Beach, CA Signature® U.S. Coin Auction, as it soared to $345,000 amidst spirited bidding. The auction realized an impressive $13.4 million total, with almost 5,000 bidders vying for the 7,385 lots, translating into a 93% sell-through rate by value and 96% by total number of lots.

Overall the auction affirmed the continued strength of gold in an up-and-down global market – with spot gold prices reaching $1,300 and on Friday, Sept. 24 – with fully seven of the top 10 lots coming in the form of the precious metal.

“We were all quite impressed overall with how these coins performed,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions. “Collectors continue to respond enthusiastically to the best and rarest examples, as evidenced by the heated competition for the Bullock 1856-O double eagle. We don’t expect to see a drop-off in gold demand as the year comes to a close and we hold our last few auctions of 2010.”

The 1856-O $20 XF45+ NGC, Ex: Bullock, one of perhaps 20 or fewer commercially available examples, made front-page news in the July 26, 2010 Coin World, with a headline proclaiming “1856-O gold double eagle surfaces in Ohio.” The coin was part of a “small accumulation of gold coins held by a family in Ohio for nearly 100 years,” and is now further distinguished by its $345,000 and its spot at the top of the roster in the Long Beach Auction.

Always popular when they come to auction, Kellogg & Humbert S.S. Central America gold ingots continued to capture collector imaginations, and superb final prices realized, at Long Beach when an astounding 114.65 ounce (9 pounds) “Very Large Size” Kellogg & Humbert Gold Assayer’s Ingot, 114.65 Ounces , brought $253,000 from an advanced collector, while a 23.35 Ounce Kellogg & Humbert S.S. Central America Gold Ingot, considered “small to medium-sized,” captured great attention at a final price of $80,500.

Nineteenth century gold continued its dominance at the top of the auction, with the single finest 1891 Carson City $10 MS65 NGC bringing $74,750. The same final price was realized by a spectacular 1848 $2-1/2 CAL. MS61 NGC, a sublime quarter eagle gold coin made from some of the earliest gold mined during the California Gold Rush.

Further highlights include, but are not limited to:

1796 50C 16 Stars VF25 PCGS. O-102, High R.5.: Realized $69,000.

1895 $1 PR64 Deep Cameo PCGS: Realized $60,375.

1876 $3 PR64 Cameo NGC: Realized $54,625.

1886 $20 XF45 NGC: Realized $54,625.

1874-CC 10C Arrows AU50 PCGS. CAC: Realized $50,313.

Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $600 million, and 500,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: 1943-D copper cent, 1795 Reeded Edge cent, 1811/0 cent, and half cent errors

News and Analysis on  coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community, #20

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I had originally intended to write this week about a variety of coins that were offered in the recently concluded Southern California auctions by the Goldbergs and Heritage. News regarding auction results, however, has been superseded by a 1943-D copper cent selling privately for a reported price of “$1.7 million.” So, I will discuss this piece, some of the early copper in the Goldbergs auction, and the 1811/0 overdate large cent that Heritage sold. This column is devoted to copper.

I. 1943-Denver Mint Copper Cent

In 1943 only, in order to allocate more copper for purposes relating to World War II, U.S. cents were made of zinc coated steel and have a whitish-steely appearance. Probably by accident, a few were struck in copper, almost certainly on planchets (prepared blanks) that were leftover from 1942. Perhaps a few copper planchets were temporarily stuck in the hoppers and became loose over time. Likewise, some 1944 cents were accidentally struck on steel planchets dating from 1943.

I am very skeptical of claims that any of these off-metal strikings were intentionally made. It is possible that U.S. Mint employees may have discovered one or more such errors and intentionally released them from the premises. These are, though, probably true errors. In the 1940s, it would have been extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, for U.S. Mint employees to strike their own fantasy pieces.

Ten or eleven 1943 Philadelphia Mint copper cents and five to seven San Francisco Mint 1943 coppers are known. Curiously, only one 1943-Denver Mint copper cent is believed to exist. It is PCGS graded MS-64 and Laura Sperber sold it to a collector for “$1.7 million.”

Stewart Blay feels “the price has been inflated because the buyer seeking the coin is a billionaire. He loves coins. He wanted to own it and eventually paid what the owner was willing to accept.” Blay is the leading collector of Lincoln Cents and is a long-time participant in coin markets. Stewart also collects silver coins.

A price of “$1.7 million” is, by far, a record price for a Lincoln Cent and for a Mint Error of any kind. For the same collector, Sperber was responsible for the previous record of $373,750 that a 1944-S steel cent realized in the Summer 2008 ANA Auction, which was conducted by Heritage in Baltimore. Furthermore, a 1943-S copper cent was sold privately, a day or so earlier, at the Summer 2008 ANA Convention. I focus on both coins in a two part series that I wrote shortly after this convention ended (Part 1).

Sperber reveals that this “deal really was four years in the making. We agreed to terms in late July. The deal closed Sept 16th.” A total of $2 million, she says, was paid for three items, this 1943-D, a 1944 Philadelphia Mint steel cent and a 1942 pattern cent in “white metal.” This collector is “not seeking” patterns, Sperber relates, “the white metal pattern was just part of the deal.”

Sperber used to collect these off-metal strikings herself. The building of this set “started when” Laura sold this collector her “personal 1943-S PCGS AU-58” copper cent, “which he still has.” She and this collector “have been working on [a set of 43-PDS coppers and 44-PDS steels] for about five years.” Sperber maintains that “completing the 1944 [three piece steel] set was a very underrated piece of work.” I (this writer) point out that there are only two or three known 1944-S steel cents and Sperber acquired the finest 1944-S steel in 2008, as I then reported (in part 2).

Much background information regarding the rarity and importance of 1943 coppers and 1944 steel cents may be found in my two part series in 2008: part 1, part 2.  I also discussed then the reasons why 1943 coppers and 1944 steel cents are extremely popular.

To save time and space, I usually refer to all coins, patterns, and errors that are at least 90% copper as being ‘copper.’ The distinction between copper and bronze, which is usually 95% copper, is beside all points put forth herein. (more…)

The Dilemma of the Placeholder – Coin Collecting Strategy

By Doug Winter – www.RareGoldCoins.com

PlaceholderIf you collect a set (or sets) and are competing in the Set Registry, the chances are good that you’ve struggled with the Dilemma of the Placeholder. Let’s examine the Pros and Cons of buying a placeholder coin and try to decide whether this is a smart collecting strategy or not.

First off, let’s define what a “placeholder coin” is. I view a placeholder coin as one that you buy as a stop gap. As an example, say that you are assembling a set of Indian Head eagles. One of the few dates that you are missing is a 1911-D. One comes up for sale at auction in a grade lower than what you really want. You decide to buy it anyway because of the fact that it a) fills a gaping hole in your set and b) gives you a sufficient number of Registry Set points that you move up a notch and pass Collector X. Was this is a smart purchase or not?

Let’s look at the pros of buying a placeholder coin. The first is the measure of satisfaction that filling a really nagging hole can give. There is nothing more frustrating for our hypothetical collector than seeing a big ol’ ugly blank every time he looks at his set inventory – especially if he has a nice date run before and after the missing coin. Coin collecting is a very emotional hobby and the Karmic Value of filling a hole is hard to put a value on.

Another pro is the fact that a Placeholder coin might grow in appeal on the owner. I’m going to assume that as a collector you are smart enough to not buy something truly hideous and to at least hold out for a moderately attractive placeholder. You might learn that your placeholder is actually so rare that it represents the only coin that you are likely to have a shot to buy.

For some collectors a placeholder coin represents a practical decision. Let’s say for example that you are assembling a gold type set from the 19th and 20th centuries and that you don’t have the ability to spend $100,000+ on a nice 1808 quarter eagle. In this case, a decent looking coin in, say, an NCS holder with EF sharpness but with signs of an old cleaning at $40,000-50,000 might be a savvy purchase; especially given the fact that an uncleaned 1808 quarter eagle in this price range might take years and years to locate.

For every pro there is a con, so now let’s look at the cons of buying placeholder coins. To my way of thinking, the biggest con about a placeholder coin is the fact that you know you are going to have to replace it. Unless the market goes up in your series, you are probably going to lose money on it when you sell it. Let’s say, for example, that Collector Z buys the mythical 1911-D eagle we discussed above. He purchases one for $10,500 that’s decent but not really a great looking coin due to the presence of some marks on the obverse. A year later he finds the right coin and it’s going to cost him $27,500. Unless Collector Z has a buyback or “trade up” agreement with the dealer he bought it from he’s probably going to take a 10-15% hit on the coin. Let’s say he’s sells it at auction and nets $9,250; a loss of $1,250. This brings the actual cost of his new coin to $28,750. (more…)

Fall’s Busy Coin Show Schedule

By Steve Roach – Rare Coin Market Report

When gold hits record levels, coin shows get a bit more press and attendance than they normally do, and in the next two months four major shows and hundreds of local shows will cater to a public curious about how they can buy into or cash out of gold at $1,300 an ounce.

After the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in August, there is a typical lull in the market and an absence of major shows until the Long Beach (Calif.) Coin, Stamp & Collectibles Expo in September, this year held Sept. 23 to 25 with an official auction by Heritage Auction Galleries and a pre-Long Beach auction by Ira and Larry Goldberg.

Then, the following weekend on the East Coast is the Whitman Coin and Collectibles Philadelphia Expo, Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, with an official auction by Stack’s and an official pre-auction by Bowers and Merena Auctions.

While the three-times-a-year Long Beach Expo is well established, the Philadelphia Expo (held just once before) has provided an alternative to dealers who wanted a major early-fall show but did not want to set up business in California for tax nexus issues.

Next on the big show calendar is Coinfest, in Stamford, Conn., from Oct. 28 to 30. With a New York City area location, the show has quickly grown in influence, perhaps evidenced by Heritage Auctions’ sale there.

Following Coinfest is the Whitman Baltimore Expo, Nov. 4 to 7, which like the Long Beach Expo is also held three times annually. It has an official sale by Bowers and Merena Auctions.

The continued vitality of these shows is a sign that they are viewed as useful by both dealers and collectors, and continue to be profitable for the sponsors.

On the auction results front, at Bonhams and Butterfields Sept. 20 coin auction, an uncertified 1889-CC Morgan dollar sold for $87,750 against an estimate of $27,000 to $30,000 (pictured above).

It was cataloged as “Brilliant Uncirculated,” but the price realized suggested a coin between Mint State 64 and MS-65. With MS-64 coins bringing $60,000 and an MS-65 possibly worth as much as $350,000, it will be interesting to see where the coin ends up.